Wominjeka profiles Victorian Koorie culture and Koorie organisations across Victoria. This excerpt tells us about how plants and other materials were utilised as both nourishment and medicine.
Further InformationTranscript of
Food and Medicine
excerpt from Wominjeka (Welcome)
Koorie Heritage Trust Inc.
In Victoria’s temperate climate, our ancestors could quite easily satisfy their every need. The swamps, river valleys and coastal strips supported an affluent life. Food was available all year round and could be obtained quickly because of the richness of the land.
Well the men done most of the huntin’ an’ the women done the food gatherin’, like the berries or yams an’ grubs an’ stuff like that…an’ the children but the men done the biggest, the majority of the hunting like the kangaroos an’ the emus…an’ there was no sweets, it was just all hard, clean tucker and all cooked in its own juices. When I was a kid you’d just go down to the river an’ catch a fish or go and dive for turtles or mussels an’ the old girls’d knock a damper. So that was good food, well you know, it was … our people lived for years on it. There was no sickness and that ‘til the whites came into this country, no, our food was top food.
I think aboriginal people in those early days, you know, they had a wide choice of whatever it is they wanted to eat.
You’ve got your fish, you’ve got your clay, you’ve got everything, you know, it’s just so simple, you know. We had a simple lifestyle but effective lifestyle, there was something, everything had a purpose. Ready to go in…
…and as you lift the meat off and you see the…an’ as you see, the skin still sticks to the clay and it just stays on the clay and you have these nice pieces of meat and it just tastes so lovely…it’s just beautiful.
There were a lot of plants, you know, wide and varied amounts of plants that they could eat and they didn’t want for, as far as vegetation goes, they had plenty of plant life.
When it came to ailments like headaches, stomach aches or a rash, people treated themselves. Everyone was taught to deal with wounds and fevers and to set broken bones. Family members cared for one another’s injuries. People use aromatic plants such as River Mint and Old Man Weed for coughs, colds and chest complaints.
Old Man Weed or Sneezeweed is considered a cure-all by Aboriginal people all over Victoria.
Eucalypt gum and any bark containing tannin helped cure stomach complaints and burns.